Valley sand and gravel plants fined by EPA


by Natalie Brand

Posted on November 21, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 7:18 PM

PHOENIX -- The EPA has issued a $150,000 fine against Fisher Sand and Gravel's three Valley locations, including South Phoenix, Buckeye and Sun City. That fine stems from air pollution violations.

This week's action is the result of a 2010 investigation that also involved Maricopa County Air Quality Department.

In 2011, the county agency reached a $1 million enforcement settlement agreement following a series of violations and complaints.

The company also shut down its asphalt plant at the South Phoenix facility on 28th Street, following a barrage of complaints and concerns from the community.

"Some nights there was so much in the air, it looked like fog outside," said nearby homeowner Martin Hernandez. "If you took a deep breath, it would make you cough."

However, Hernandez says since the plant has been closed, life has dramatically improved.

"It's nice out here right now," he told 3TV. "You can actually breathe, and if you look at lights, there's no cloud of dust. It's improved a lot.

Fisher Sand and Gravel declined to comment to 3TV Wednesday night. It's not known if and when the plant will reopen, but county officials say the plant must fully comply with code first.

According to EPA documents filed this week, the company must install water spray bars to help control dust, as well as submit detailed compliance reports.

"It makes me think that someone is doing their job," Hernandez said.

He said he and other homeowners deserve to breathe clean air.

"Now that enough noise was made to bring attention to it, I'm glad they will be monitoring it more closely," he said.

The settlement paperwork, which is available online, is subject to a 30-day public comment period, which has yet to be scheduled, and then court approval.